19 Sep 2017

Stopping the Snoopers - Social Media Update

by Verlie Oosthuizen, Partner, Durban,
Practice Area(s): Social Media / Cyber Crimes |

There have been all sorts of allegations about a “dirty tricks” campaign that has been launched against the Deputy-President, Cyril Ramaphosa.  One of the key role players in the saga, Kenny Kunene, who has a “news” website called Weekly Xposẻ (which is a regarded by many as a fake news site), published images of a young woman which were said to have been sent to Ramaphosa at his request.  Needless to say the images were of an intimate nature and whilst the source of the information has not been revealed, it became clear that the young woman had not given her consent to have the images published online.

Kunene said that he had published the images to justify his claims on his site that Ramaphosa had been conducting illicit affairs, however, the woman went to court to obtain an order that Kunene be compelled to take the mages down.

The court found that the dignity and the privacy of the woman had been violated and ordered that the pictures be removed. Kunene was also prohibited from copying or sending the pictures to anyone else.

Although this matter was decided in the civil courts it could have also resulted in criminal charges as Kunene violated the Electronic Communications Act by intercepting communications without permission.  He may also have violated the Sexual Offences Act with the exposure of the images which were sexually graphic and he almost certainly could be charged with crimen injuria.

Snoopers who intercept images of this nature are treading on dangerous ground.  Due to the embarrassment that complainants suffer when these violations occur, they have a greater incentive to take action against the perpetrators and it is unlikely that any court will justify this type of gross violation.